Every year, more than 3,000 people die in home fires. Another 18,000 are injured. Home fires may not seem like something that can happen to you and your family, but every day hundreds of families throughout the US find themselves without a home due to a fire.
Sometimes fires are just the result of bad luck. Some fires aren’t preventable—they just happen as a result of events (such as wildfires) beyond the homeowner’s control. However, a large majority of fires can be prevented by knowing some basic fire safety rules and by taking the following precautions.
Here is a guide to make sure that your home stays safe from fire.
General fire prevention rules
Home fires can start in a number of ways—most start in the kitchen, but some of the other common causes of fires include faulty electrical wiring, improper storage of portable heating systems, and overloaded circuits.
Here are some general rules for preventing fires—and minimizing the damage from fires that do start:
- Make sure that at least one smoke detector is installed in your home. Ideally, you’ll have multiple detectors installed in various areas throughout your home. Studies have shown that a working smoke detector can greatly increase your chances of surviving a fire.
- Make sure that all smoke alarm batteries are tested on a monthly basis. Replace them immediately when they begin to run low. A working smoke detector can alert you if a fire is about to start.
- Consider investing in a home sprinkler system. You may think they’re only used in businesses, but a home sprinkler system can save your life. A sprinkler system will also increase the value of your home and decrease your insurance bill.
- Create a fire response plan. If a fire does start, each member of your family should know what to do. A fire plan will include a planned route to escape from each room and a designated meeting place outside the home.
A majority of home fires begin in the kitchen. That’s why every member of your family should know some basic rules for staying safe while cooking. Here are a few basic Dos and Don’ts of kitchen safety:
- Do install a smoke alarm near the kitchen.
- Do replace any old or worn appliances, particularly those with frayed wiring. Poor electrical wiring results in thousands of fires every year.
- Do purchase a home fire extinguisher and make sure that it is in an accessible place near your kitchen.
- Do make sure that the kitchen area—particularly the stovetop—remains clean and free of grease.
- Do watch for signs of an imminent fire. Smoke almost always precedes fire, so if appliance or food item is smoking, carefully turn off the heat or unplug the item.
- Do NOT leave cooking food unattended. Food cooking on a stovetop is especially prone to igniting, so be sure that the area is under constant supervision.
- Do NOT try to put out a grease fire with water. Instead, smother the fire with a tight-fitting lid.
Avoiding electrical fires
Electrical fires are the next most common type of home fire. As with kitchen fires, knowing what causes the fires can help you avoid them all together.
- Do not plug too many things into an outlet or extension cord.
- If you notice any wiring that seems worn or frayed, get it replaced.
- Do not put electrical wires under carpet, rugs, or furniture.
- If you are experiencing electrical problems, do not try to fix the problem yourself—instead, call a qualified electrician.
Stop the flames before they start
Fires cost American homeowners billions of dollars of year. Avoid the heartache and expense of a fire—following these fire prevention tips will ensure that your family and your home are safe from the devastation of a fire.
By Tim Crain. Tim writes for a wide variety of home improvement and disaster recovery companies, including Regency DKI. He enjoys writing about the ways to prevent various property disasters.
This is such an important topic – thank you for covering it! Testing the smoke alarms frequently is one of the most overlooked things, until disaster strikes and then it’s too late.